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Monday, December 14, 2009
A flag and an upset

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In the end, it's the games that matter. The anticipation that this game may produce something special. It's why we sit through Titans 47, Rams 7. It's why we sift through blogs and trade rumors and box scores. We like the games. We picked the 25 best games, matches and races of the decade -- believe us, it wasn't easy -- and listed them in reverse chronological order. We want you to rank the best. Enjoy the look back as ESPN.com writers remember these classics.

ESPN.com's 25 best games of the decade: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25

Ohio State

Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel's fourth-down pass from the 5-yard line, intended for Chris Gamble on the right side of the end zone, fell to the Fiesta Bowl turf. Miami had won an overtime thriller, 24-17, to win the 2002 BCS title. On cue, the fireworks exploded over the end zone where the Hurricanes celebrated. Miami had made so much history:

• They joined Alabama (1978-79) and Nebraska (1994-95) as the only schools in the last 35 years to win consecutive national championships.
• They extended their winning streak to 35 games, the third longest in the modern era.
• Miami head coach Larry Coker, who had replaced Butch Davis in 2001, raised his record to 25-0.

And then came the flag.

Terry Porter, the field judge from the Big 12 Conference crew, called pass interference on Miami defensive back Glenn Sharpe. Porter's flag came out slowly, and from the side of the field. The time between when the play ended and when Porter threw the flag didn't really last long enough to knit a sweater. It just seemed that way.

The fireworks stopped. Miami's winning streak returned to 34 games; their string of national championships shrank from two to one.

The teams lined up again, only this time at the 2, and Ohio State had a first down. Krenzel scored on third down, and when freshman Maurice Clarett scored from five yards out in the second overtime, Ohio State had a 31-24 lead and the momentum. And when Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey's final pass into the end zone fell incomplete, Ohio State won the game.

Final score: Ohio State 31, Miami 24. It remains the only national championship game to need more than 60 minutes. That's what they remember in Ohio. In the other 49 states, they remember the flag.
--Ivan Maisel

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